Friday, 29 November 2013

Mak Man Kee Vs Mak's Noodle, Jordan, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia Day 5, Part 2)

To understand the Mak's Noodle story is to understand the complicated web of a family dynasty that goes back three generations. Mak Woon-chi brought wonton noodles to Hong Kong, where the dish become a popular street food. Mak's Noodle in Central became the original Mak's, and was handed to the second son. Here is where it gets complicated so I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that the first son opened his own shop - as did a granddaughter, a protege and an uncle, and the original Mak's opened many other branches. Today there are a whole range of wonton noodle shops that can trace their origin to Mak's Noodles, and after our trip to Disneyland we decided to head to the uncle's store – Mak Man Kee in Jordan.

Confusingly, Mak Man Kee has no English signage at all on the outside. I can understand not bothering with catering to English speaking westerners – Tim Ho Wan do well with just the Cantonese signage – however, in the case of Mak Man Kee the fact that a branch of Mak's Noodles is two stores down means I'm sure a lot of confused people go there instead. Thankfully I knew there was difference, and the busier Mak Man Kee definitely seemed to be the more popular of the two.

I'd read that the wontons here were bigger than those of Mak's Noodles, so we ordered the tiger prawn wontons as well as pork noodles. The wontons were indeed very large and juicy – very deluxe wontons. I'd read about the small serving sizes for the noodle soup here, yet it still surprised me how small the bowl of noodles are – more a snack than a proper meal. The soup itself was tasty and very umami, and the noodles having a nice springiness. However we both agreed we'd have rather had another bowl of the goose leg noodle soup at Yat Lok instead.

The dry pork noodles were okay, but we found the sauce to taste a bit strange. Alissa had thought it was going to be char siu, so I think she was doubly disappointed. If I could go back in time I think I would have ordered the prawn roe noodles instead as that probably would have been more to our liking.

Still feeling hungry, I thought I'd make the most of the close proximity to Mak's Noodles to give them a try. I failed to take a photo of the meal, however it looked almost identical to the Mak Man Kee wonton noodle soup. The wontons, noodles and soup all tasted similar to the Mak Man Kee version, but I would say Mak Man Kee did it slightly better. In particular I felt the chilli oil at Mak Man Kee helped elevate their dish ahead of Mak's. Apparently the Central store is better though but I can't comment on whether or not this is true.

Mak's Noodle
The Verdict: Good (but behind Mak Man Kee)

Mak Man Kee
The Verdict: Good

After this experience, I think I've come to conclusion I prefer the way they do this dish in Singapore and Malaysia, as the 'Wanton Mee' variety is more of a complete meal and is often served 'dry' with the soup on the side. This is the way I remember wantons from when I was a kid ordering 'the No.10' at Up Markets in Fremantle, and other than the superior size of the wantons Hong Kong's style doesn't really do it for me as much. I'd recommend another meal at Yat Lok instead, and save your wanton eating for Singapore.

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